The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it has also resumed repatriation of refugees by road after a few months of suspension, noting that its convoy comprising of five buses carried 218 individuals to Baidoa and Luuq in southwest Somalia in January.
“This was also the first road convoy since the movement by road was suspended in October 2015 due to rainy season,” the UN refugee agency said in its Bi-Weekly report released in Nairobi.
During the reporting period, the UNHCR said eight road convoys carried 1,902 refugees to Somalia via Dhobley way station.
“The voluntary return flight movements were still suspended, however, preparations to resume the flights to Mogadishu on Feb. 1 were undertaken. As of Jan. 31, 8,003 Somali refugees returned home since 8th December 2014, when UNHCR started supporting voluntary return of Somali refugees in Kenya,” UNHCR said.
The UN agency said the Return Help Desk (RHD) which is jointly managed by UNHCR, Kenya’s department of refugee affairs (DRA) and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) were quite busy attending to over 1,700 individuals who have expressed their interest to return or make enquiries about the voluntary return process.
Returning refugees are assisted with transport to their places of origin, mostly in Kismayo, Mogadishu, Baidoa and Luuq in South and Central Somalia.
They also receive a cash grant, food and basic domestic items such as sleeping mats, mosquito nets, a solar lantern, hygiene supplies and kitchen utensils to help them start a new life.
The repatriation is the result of efforts by the Tripartite Commission formed by UNHCR and the governments of Kenya and Somalia which was formed to step up support for voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees.
Despite the fragile security environment situation in Somalia, refugees have started to return, UNHCR said, noting that more still have returned spontaneously without receiving assistance from UNHCR.
Under the current agreement assistance will be provided to returnees to any area of Somaliland, Puntland and South Central Somalia.
Dadaab has been providing protection, shelter and humanitarian assistance to Somali refugees for two decades often under difficult and complex circumstances.
Chronic overcrowding, a risk of disease, and seasonal floods are among these challenges facing the refugees.